World Refugee Day, observed in the United States and around the world on June 20, was established by the United Nations to increase awareness of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. Catholic dioceses, parishes, and organizations across the globe commemorated this annual event, celebrating the positive contributions of refugees and the efforts of communities to welcome them.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Almost seventy years ago, in his apostolic constitution Exsul Familia, Pope Pius XII boldly proclaimed that the ‘Holy Family of Nazareth, fleeing into Egypt, is the archetype of every refugee family.’ In the aftermath of World War II, that image of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph seeking safety had been the lived reality of millions. Today, that number has grown to surpass any other point in history, propelled by the ravages of war, persecution, famine, and other tragedies. This is the persistent nature of forced displacement, and it requires a proactive response.

“As we work now to support those displaced by the war in Ukraine, we continue to urge a more robust use of the Refugee Admissions Program, which is designed to ensure the long-term integration and self-sufficiency of newly arrived refugees. Consistent with those same goals, we renew our appeal for Congress to pass legislation that would provide a pathway to permanent legal status for our new Afghan neighbors. Finally, we reaffirm the importance of asylum as a vital mechanism for humanitarian protection.

“May the Holy Family serve as a source of hope and strength for all those seeking safety, and may we who are called to know, love, and serve God recognize him in those displaced.”

The USCCB, through its Department of Migration and Refugee Services, is one of nine national  resettlement agencies supporting the Refugee Admissions Program. Through this work, the Catholic Church in the United States answers Christ’s call to welcome the stranger and carries out the Church’s commitment to protecting the life and dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception to natural death.

Resources related to World Refugee Day, Ukraine, and other topics can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.